How we should look at the Bible

Last week, I presented on what I believe. Now, I’d like to take some time to briefly discuss the Bible, and how we should examine it.

It isn’t enough to go to church, listen to preachers, read Christian ‘self help’ books and sing songs to and about God. In a world where the tenets of Christianity can be blurred, we must be sure that the sources of Christianity in which we place our trust are accurate and reliable.

The primary source of our faith is the Bible. The Bible is widely considered as the written word of God. But certainly, believers and skeptics alike can agree that God himself did not put a pen to his hand and write out the Bible and hand it down to us (as he did the Ten Commandments). The Bible is an anthology, more specifically a canon, of sixty-six separate books written by more than forty men in a time span of about fifteen hundred years.[1] For the cynic, this is a reason to disbelieve; but to the Christian, it is a reason for reliability.

Skeptics will say, ‘Well, there you have it. It wasn’t actually written by God. It was written by human beings who lived all over the place, which is why the Bible is all over the place; contradicting itself a hundred times over.’ But the Christian who studies the Bible intently will say just the opposite. For the Bible’s continuity and consistency in light of how, where and when it was written is beyond measure.

In his book, “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” Josh McDowell goes into great detail explaining how the Bible’s continuity proves that it is one book that tells the story of God’s redemption of mankind. “The Bible addresses hundreds of different subjects…Yet from Genesis through Revelation these writers addressed them with an amazing degree of harmony.” [2]

However, when reading the Bible we must understand that the writers were not intentionally writing to us. This presents a quandary in that many preachers will say things like, “The Bible is our love letter from God.” I suppose this is true in its overall scope of grace and redemption, but again, it was not penned by God to us. It was penned by people writing to specific people in their own language and culture for varying reasons. Few of those writers could have ever imagined that their works would turn into the most widely read texts of all time, translated in numerous languages and still in print thousands of years later. To this, some cultural practices have been left out because everyone reading at the time certainly knew their own customs. Had the writers been writing to other cultures, they might have made some explanations.[3]

In addition, we must also understand the use of language, specifically in light of how English translators were challenged with transforming certain Greek and Hebrew words not in the English language. Therefore, we must practice proper hermeneutics, the study of how to rightly interpret scripture. [4]

Hermeneutics play an important part in our Biblical studies. The whole of our spiritual education is based on scripture. Therefore, we must be attentive to how we interpret the scriptures in our personal and corporate study time as well as what teachers and preachers we listen to, and what books we read. We must understand that there are other ‘churches’ out there that drastically differ from Protestant Christian principles. Latter Day Saints, for example, is a popular religion that calls itself Christian, and on the surface sounds much like mainstream Christianity; but actually has drastically different beliefs. This is due mainly to its inclusion of The Book of Mormon, a canon, of which Latter Day Saints believe is another testament of Jesus Christ.[5]

Latter Day Saints also believe in a mother god; a form of salvation for ‘sinners’ in hell; and exalted Mormons become god-like in Heaven, plus an array of other doctrinal differences.[6]

Aside from LDS churches, even mainline Protestant churches have differing views from each other on certain subjects—but not in theological content as with LDS churches. Much of the differing views are in Biblical interpretations and in traditional practice. A women pastor, for example, is one of these differences. Some denominations will allow women pastors, while others will not, based on interpretations of Paul’s letters that address the subject.

This is why we need to be respectful toward others when discussing our apologetics. Not only are we to be respectful when discussing apologetics with unbelievers (if we are to win them to Christ); but we must also not let our disputes among certain interpretations get in the way of brotherly love toward our fellow believers.

Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (1 Tim 2:14-15).

How, then, do we find reliability in scripture if there are disputes among interpretation? More on this tomorrow.l

[1] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers), 4.

[2] Ibid. 6.

[3] Judy Brown, Women Ministers According to Scripture (Kearney, NE: Morris Publishing), 12-16.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “What Latter Day Saints Believe,” Beliefnet, (accessed March 22, 2013).

[6] Ibid.

2 thoughts on “How we should look at the Bible

  1. Pingback: How we should look at the Bible part 2: Church denomination–the same thing only different | A Closer Look

  2. Pingback: Path of Life | terry1954

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